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Monday, February 13, 2012

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Aren't the Cubs (self) constrained payroll-wise? Why would they want Blanton? Why wouldn't the Cubs just sign Oswalt?

Dumping Blanton and resigning Oswalt would be one of Amaro's great coups. I just don't know how he is able to move Blanton.

No one seems to be acknowledging the fact that I doubt Blanton even passes a physical at this point from another team.

maybe nobody's mentioning it b/c it isn't the case?

It is going to be really interesting to see in camp if Blanton is the sinker/slider/changeup guy he was last year and that is what he intends to be this year as a starter rarely throwing a 4-seamer or his curveball.

If Amaro were able to pull off a Blanton for Dewitt trade, then turn around and sign Oswalt, that would make this team better. Dewitt can't play SS though, and that is a problem, because it means Mini-Mart still needs to be on the roster.

Wait, the Phils are serious about Oswalt?

BB - They won't say anything because it officially kills any trade value he has. Given that Blanton was going to be shutdown if he experienced any elbow discomfort and didn't have surgery, I can't imagine the underlying condition improved that much.

Dewitt doesn't do anything that Wigginton doesn't do better. Plus, we already have way too many left-handed hitters on our bench. No thanks.

Yeah, that's a bit of a stretch on DeWitt. Slow news day I guess.

Yeah, topics are getting slim.

Wait.... why would the cubs take on 8 million (plus/minus) for a pitcher who hasn't pitched in a year, then pay 1 million to DeWitt and get nothing? If the Phils could have unloaded Blanton, they would have done it a long time ago.

JW - I actually disagree. In terms of moves yeah but there are a bunch of more nuanced things you could cover beyond the lame (e.g., who will be in the Opening Day lineup) or the obvious (e.g., Is Polanco going to stay healthy?)

Kind of a more astute analysis of what to look for in spring training besides the generally meaningless box scores.

Few things that come to mind:

- Stutes' slider
- Bastardo's fastball location and composure on the mound
- Polanco's 'outs' and hit locations

I remember Blake DeWitt was supposed to be the best "pure hitter" in his draft class, which to me is usually code for, "he doesn't have any power". It proved true that he doesn't have any power, and unfortunately for him, he can't really hit that well either. He's been coasting on his 1st rd pick Laurels for a while.

yo topics be gettin slim
like my man slim.
well thats not his real name.
his real name is eric,
but we call him slim,
cause physically hes thin.
i dont know who started it-
but it was probably carl.

i have a feeling topicsll only get slimmer before they get fatter. pitchers and catchers reporting is more than a bit of a mirage.

i do like the creativity behind the dewitt idea. i like his age most of all. and id like to admit to you all that i dont know much about him defensively. as bap points out, having wigginton on the roster would seemingly make dewitt redundant.

also, not sold on oswalt. he could bounce back, but it is a risk. blanton is in a similar situation, at a higher dollar amount, so i suppose thats an even greater risk. i dont know, i have stuff to do - leave me alone.

Signing Blake DeWitt, 26, would make the Phillies a younger team, if nothing else.

Oh, he needs to hit and field, too? Age is not enough to justify the move?

The A's have reportedly signed Cespedes. Guess the tour of MarlinWorld didn't work except to maybe drive up the price(?)

Amaro needs to stop dragging his d*ck in the dirt and sign a utility IF.

eh, lets take a look at other team's 26th best player this spring, i dont see the rush.

No interest in a utility IF that can't play SS.

Cespedes to Oakland. Everyone who called that, stand up and take a bow.

I would say this: No interest in a utility IF that can't play SS.

But my guess is that someone's already said it.

And to those who think there's a trade market for Joe Blanton . . . please take note that the Indians just signed Jon Garland to a minor league deal. Garland is an almost perfect comp to Blanton -- similar age, similar injury problems in 2011, similar past performance except that Garland has been considerably better than Blanton over the last 3 or so years. So, if a guy like this can be had on a minor league contract, why would any team pay $8M, or anything close to it, for Blanton?

actually the Garlands situation is a bad comp. He had shoulder surgery. I know Blanton is a perceived injury risk but he's never been operated on (that I know of). There's a huge difference.

Plus Blanton showed a little something at the end of the year. Garland hasn't pitched since June.

That said he still not worth more then 2mm in a give-away trade. He'll need an extremely strong ST if the phils want to move him before the season starts.

Too bad DeWitt can't play SS. As is, he would add nothing.

4 years 36 mil for Cespedes...reasonable investment considering the original numbers being thrown around were 6/60.

Joe Blanton and a lifetime supply of scrapple?

Looks like Martinez is it. If Chase or Rollins get injured they will call up Orr or Galvis. This how i think Rube is approaching this at least for now. If its Chase im guessing they will move Polly to 2nd and gulp Wigginton to 3rd. Dam it hurt to type that. If they traded Valdez to supposedly make salary room then why go after this guy. Albeit he supposedly has a better bat but poorer defense. Especially if he cant play SS.

bap, stop trying to make sense of the Blanton situation. That doesn't work for many here.

I thought this blurb from the Sherman pirce I linked on the last thread was interesting:

"4. CBA FALLOUT

Teams still are trying to fully digest all the ramifications of the CBA that was ratified in late November. Some of the big issues — moving the Astros to the AL, changing the compensation rules for free agency — have been heavily discussed. But there is one element that has gotten little attention, but should be a factor in spring training.

Article XX(B) free agents — essentially most free agents who have played at least six major league seasons — who have signed minor league contracts this offseason must either be put on the major league roster five days before the regular season or be given a $100,000 bonus to go to the minors and the right to opt out of their contract on June 1. The union insisted on this as a way of keeping players who should be in the majors from being parked in the minors.

It is unlikely many — if any — teams will agree to the $100,000 bonus. Thus, in late March, you can expect a layer of player movement that did not exist previously.

The Mets already are deploying a strategy built around this new rule. They had been considering a bunch of lefty-hitting outfielders such as Rick Ankiel. But they stopped their pursuit, in part, because they believe a few will become available just before the regular season, at a time when the Mets would know for sure if that is an area in which they should invest. Ankiel, for example, signed a minor league deal with the Nationals. If Washington decides to go with super prospect Bryce Harper, it might not carry Ankiel or pay him $100,000 additionally to wait in the minors as insurance.

Others who fall under this umbrella include Russell Branyan, Miguel Batista, Aaron Cook, Kevin Millwood, Carlos Guillen, Juan Cruz, Zach Duke, Livan Hernandez, Jeff Francis and Vicente Padilla."

In short, just like the Mets, the Phillies may be counting/hoping on a piece or two to shake loose before the beginning of the season.


http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/more_sports/yanks_bosox_no_longer_only_top_tier_t1zHRjGaI2FwGUQR6nPUYI#ixzz1mI5xeC00

What the above referenced Article XX(B) also means is that some of the players the Phillies signed to MiL deals are going to cost them money to stash at Lehigh Valley.

Does that money count against the lux-tax cap, or is it considered minor league expenditure?

That Guy: Having shoulder surgery is a plus, not a minus; that means his problems are less likely to recur. The same can't be said of Blanton.

Besides, Garland is a considerably better, more durable, pitcher than Blanton. Before last year, Garland had posted an ERA+ above 104 in 6 of his last 7 seasons; Blanton had been over 100 in only 3 of his first 6 seasons. Plus, Garland's IP totals are way better than Blanton's.

Even though I'm excited for the A's, the best thing about the Cespedes signing is that the Miami Mudskippers are once again finding themselves flopping about having not signed another target that seemed to be in their grasp.

I imagine that the tour of the stadium is what did it.

anytime you choice to cut over rehab you're taking a risk. I don't know how you can say that a shoulder operation makes him a better option. Especially when you are talking about the rotator cuff.

Shoulder injuries are considered more dangerous to a career than elbow injuries because no one has developed a Tommy John-style cure-all to injured shoulders.

The idea of trading Blanton is like the idea of trading Ibanez last year. There is no possibility of it happening, and it exists only in the mind of Beerleaguers who are woefully ignorant of how the market works in baseball.

pretty interseting addition to the CBA.

So who qualifies for the Phils?

Piniero and Pierre, anyone else?

What'll be interesting to see is, will this provision have the unintended consequence of putting out of work those guys who would otherwise be parked in the minors all season? Who would pay the $100,000 bonus to keep a guy if there's going to be a bunch of equally fringy players out of work. If these guys could win a spot on a 25 man roster, they probably would have.

Per Crashburn Alley, Fangraphs has Ryan Howard as the worst baserunner in the NL over the last two seasons, just worse than Prince Fielder.

But hey, I'm sure he'll improve after the torn Achilles.

Jack: And he strikes out too much!

Wow, what a surprise Crashburn Alley came up with that, and a bonus surprise with Jack posting it here!

"What'll be interesting to see is, will this provision have the unintended consequence of putting out of work those guys who would otherwise be parked in the minors all season?"

Jbird, exactly what I thought.

Unintended consequences, or does the union have enough data on "stashing" to believe that the players will get either promoted, or released and catch on elsewhere.

Teams have, in the past, stashed older guys in the minors and kept young guys (guys with options remaining) on the 25-man to open the season because it gives them more flexibility.

A's have had the most baffling offseason now with the Cespedes signing. They traded/dumped a ton of younger players including most of their rotation and their closer yet spent big money on Cespedes and relatively decent money on Crisp (2 yrs/$14M).

Guess he is hedging it all on the A's getting approval to move to San Jose by 2015. Until then, they'll be dregs hardly spending a dime and not competitive with the Angels/Rangers.

Cespedes supposedly had more money from the Fish but turned it down to take the A's offer.

I much rather live in the Bay Area than Miami too.

Cespedes is the 2012 A's highest paid player. Nudges Michael Taylor even further down the OF depth chart.

I can only assume that Cespedes caught Moneyball on one of his flights. That, or someone tipped him off that the Marlins new ballpark will only have a handful more fans in it in 3 years than it did on his tour.

Bedrosian Beard - Yeah. A's are really going to take their lumps this year. 75-win max team and probably closer to 70.

Doubt they have another .500 plus season until they move to SJ in '15 which means nearly a decade of sub .500 years (last season over .500 was '06).

Fangraphs has Ryan Howard as the worst baserunner in the NL over the last two seasons

If it wasn't for lugging around that fat contract, Howard would be a better baserunner.

I would think Miami would be a dream destination for a latin player.

BeBeard, we all know that the boys at fangraphs, Crashburn Alley and especially Jack are Ryan Howard's biggest fans, no?

I believe and have posted here, that there are better 1B in MLB than Howard, and would have preferred AGon to all the other otential FA options until he was extended by Boston.

That said, fangraphs and CA (if they linked it)(though I couldn't find it on either site), and Jack, of course, are guilty of classless piling on where Howard's baserunning is concerned. Par for the course where Jack is concerned.

WTF do they expect? They guy isn't a great baserunner in the first place, but the last 2 seasons he's had major leg injuries where he's lost time to the DL and been extremely hobbled.

Jack, you expected someting else? Are you that much of a Moronocracy member that you somehow see it as valid criticism of Howard?

Who's the best baserunner in MLB when healthy? Some have opined Chase Utley, when healthy? But Utley certainly wasn't the best baserunner in MLB last season. How come you don't criticize him for his baserunning having fallen off so much? Oh, yeah, I forgot - you'll cut St. Utley slack because he had a serious leg injury.
Howard? No such luck.


I'm issuing a BL Double Standard Alert.

"Doubt they have another .500 plus season until they move to SJ in '15"

MG - do you have the inside scoop? Has Selig gotten around the Giants' objections?

Very curious move by teh A's who have basically stripped that car to the frame and, put it in teh garage for when they have time to rebuild it. Are they going to flip Cespedes for some more prospects? Or, is this their way of avoiding union calls for sanctions by nudging the payroll over the undefined floor?

donc: Have you seen the flashing dolphin thing? Maybe it's a little TOO much dream. Not to mention, it would have been his job to set that thing off. Would you really want that celebrating your homeruns?

Hugh - No but everything points to the A's getting past the Giants' objections eventually. I always find it odd how San Jose and SF are linked yet they are 50 miles apart.

I just wonder if the A's intend actually building their new stadium in San Jose city limits and they can get the stupid voters to approve another largely publicly-financed stadium like the 49ers did in Santa Clara.

Muuurgh: Haven't seen it. Sounds awesome though. If winning world series can't help you draw fans, I guess you need to try just about anything. I think that new ballpark is one of the most disgraceful wastes of taxpayer money I can ever remember. I think Loria put about $20 of his own money in. And, as someone who has lived in that area, they have no hope of drawing down there. I doubt they get more than a one or two season bounce from that new park. Everybody is from somewhere else. But hey what do I know? Maybe the flashing fish will be the magic bullet.

MG - The odd part is that San Jose was A's territory until the '90s when they ceded it to the Giants, gratis, in a move to buttress efforts to keep the team from moving to Miami or elsewhere in the darkest days of Candlestick. The Giants, now, refuse to give it back presumably because they want the Bay Area to themselves. The Giants' price will be steep and, the consequence of trying to override their veto is a repeat of the internecine warfare that threatened MLB's antitrust exemption back when contraction was on the table for the Expos and others.

Definitely mixed messages from Oakland. And the fact that Miami offered him more $ makes it all the more head scratching. I almost wonder if the A's are as surprised as we are.

Marlins offered him $36 over 6 years.

Ah, gotcha. The Oakland contract had the same total value, with two fewer years, raising the AAV $2M.

Still, a very curious move on their part. But he is very young, so maybe he's just the first piece of an actual rebuilding plan.

Typical Beane contract with only $6.5 million of it payable in '12, 8.5 next season and 10.5 the next two.

He's not even "very young", he's 26. Certainly a good age if he's for real, but that's a solid commitment for an unproven commodity.

Hugh: To me, that's the most galling part of the Giant's - A's territory battle. If they can't move to San Jose, I say put a stadium next to the New Meadowlands and move them to Jersey.

Big Hector Luna guy. Hit .138 when he was up for a cup of coffee with the Marlins in 2010. Ruben was all over him this winter for Utley's backup. He's been with only 6 different organizations the last 10 years and just turned 32. Just right age for Ruben's AAA second baseman.

With regard to DeWitt, the only thing he has going for him is his age. There will be plenty of opportunities to sign a decent utility player between now and the start of the season. No need in signing or trading for every piece of flotsam and jetsam that floats past.

Hector Luna's a hell of a lot better hitter than Mini-Mart. Problem is, he doesn't play shortstop. You can't be a backup shortstop if you don't play shortstop -- unless, of course, you're Mini-Mart himself.

awh: There have been like a thousand BL posters who have criticized Utley's one-year power dropoff, assuming it to be permanent, without noting his (more serious) leg injury.

For what it's worth, Utley was the 3rd best baserunner on the Phillies last year per Fangraphs. I don't know what their methodology is, but their ranking of the Phillies' baserunners seems about right to me. Then again, in the eyes of many BL posters, Fangraphs is a website that exists primarily to create and distribute pro-Utley and anti-Howard propaganda.

DH, I simply recognize fangraphs, etc. for what they are: sabr biased sites that can't see any value in things they can't quantify - or at least TRY to quantify - even if said quantification is hugely subjective as opposed to being more mathematically pure.


Yes, Utleys 12/1 SB/CS last year was just so awful. Truly, I don't understand why more people aren't comparing Utley's baserunning skills to Howards.

Also, I'm sure that Howard will be a much improved baserunner when he gets back. After all, big power hitters on the wrong side of 30 with leg injuries typically just terrorize the basepaths after a surgery or two.

Wow, does fangraphs really think Papelbon has a good fastball?:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-best-pitches-of-2011-fastball/

Who ever compared Utley and Howard on the basepaths?

As for Howard coming back, the Phils didn't pay his big dollars for his speed. As long as it doesn't completely negate his ability to play 1B, it isn't a big issue.

The power issue is whether it affects his ability to plant on his back foot and drive the ball. Everyone seemingly assumes he will rebound from it. Not sure if he does. If he suddenly become a guy who is a max 30 HR guy and who hits say 25-27 HRs in '13, that contract will truly turn out to be awful.

As for Utley, he really did lose a step last year as he played more and more. Didn't even attempt a SB the final 2 months of the year. Utley of even 2 years either doesn't necessary get thrown on those plays in the NLCS either.

Utley has definitely lost a step & I don't know how much speed he will lose as the season goes on this year as he plays more and more. Another guy with a chronic issue that will never really improve or be 100% at this point.

So the Phils signed a closer to 4 years (possibly 5 years) whose bread-and-butter pitch is still heavily dependent on his velocity and he is entering an age when velocity tends to drop just a bit.

Nothing could possibly go wrong with that if say his 4-seam fastball drops from normally at 95-96 to say 92-93 routinely? Papelbon has a decent splitter but it isn't as good an offspeed pitch as Madson's changeup or even Lidge's slider.

awh: What do you mean by subjective? If you're referring to the subjectivity involved in UZR, I agree. If you're referring to the WAR-is-everything commentary in the blog portion of the site, I agree.

If you're suggesting they're rigging the baserunning formula to boost the statistics of players they like and punish the statistics of players they don't like, fudging the numbers to make Utley look 11 runs better than Howard on the bases, that's crazy.

Top 10 baserunners last year were Andrus, Bourn, Granderson, Kinsler, Alexei Ramirez, Fowler, Barney, Pierre, Gardner, and Rios. Bottom 10 were Konerko, Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Lee, Butler, Ortiz, Fielder, McGehee, LaPorta, and Aramis Ramirez. The statistic looks reasonable, and it indicates Utley is 11 runs better on the bases than Howard.

Of course Howard isn't paid to run the bases, and his baserunning numbers are similar to other slugging first basemen, but this is an area where Utley is significantly more valuable that Howard.

This is a lot of words to make a simple point: the reason Jack, Crashburn Alley, and others criticize Howard's baserunning without criticizing Utley's is because Howard's baserunning is awful and Utley's is quite good. It is not because they personally love or hate either player.

I will say that in Howard's defense those foot issues really have seemed to have bothered him a hell of a lot the last 2 years. Bet it affected his speed on the basepaths.

I would love to see how many times he scored from 2nd on a single or went from 1st-3rd the last 2 years but I bet it is under a dozen.

MG - You can find that stuff on B-R.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/howarry01-bat.shtml#batting_baserunning::none

Who cares that Howard isn't a good baserunner? I just want to see him getting over 100 walks and SLG over .550 again.

DPhils, let's revisit my post, because I think you're reading too muc into it, so let me give you my definitons:


Hugely subjective: UZR, WAR.

More mathematically pure: OBP, SLG.

Less mathemetically pure, but not quite hugely subjective: BA, Fielding %

Sophist, exactly. That's why I find it amusing that a member of the Moronocracy even bothered to pass on info about Howard's baserunning, as if his loathed contract had anything to do with it.

'...the reason Jack, Crashburn Alley, and others criticize Howard's baserunning without criticizing Utley's is because Howard's baserunning is awful and Utley's is quite good. It is not because they personally love or hate either player."


DH, you're not very familiar with Jack, are you?

As as far as Howard baserunning (or lack thereof) is concerned, WGAS? He ain't paid to be like Michael Bourn.

Sophist -- Re: Howard's slugging. You, and at least a million Phillies fans.

***So the Phils signed a closer to 4 years (possibly 5 years) whose bread-and-butter pitch is still heavily dependent on his velocity and he is entering an age when velocity tends to drop just a bit. ***

So its a bad thing that our new closer had the best fastball in baseball last year?


Now I'm confused.

Also, his splitter is really good.

Sophist - He won't ever do either one again because teams simply won't throw him enough fastballs and will use LOOGYs whenever they can against him.

I would be happy if he rebounds to a 80 BB/.520 SLG guy again in '13 which seems like a real stretch.

NEPP - It isn't a bad pitch but it is really the only offspeed pitch he really has because his slider isn't that good.

Basically when Papelbon falls behind in the count, he almost exclusively uses 4-seam fastballs at over a 90% clip the past few years.

Papelbon can get away with doing that because of his control with it and his velocity (95-96). He can even hit 97 on the gun occasionally if he lets loose high in the zone or on a raising fastball.

He loses say 2-3 MPH on it and it suddenly becomes a lot easier to handle or foul off especially on the inner part the plate vs RH bats.

To be sure, the Phillies didn't pay Howard $125M for his speed. On the other hand, it IS sort of striking just how many fundamental baseball attributes (speed, defense, putting the ball in play, hitting for average, getting on base, positional scarcity, hitting left-handed pitchers, etc.) the Phillies didn't pay that $125M for.

What makes Papelbon so good is that he throws 95 MPH and can locate it with startling consistency. Very few guys in MLB can do that now or ever could really.

Papelbon has never had arm issues. There is no reason to believe he's suddenly going to lose 3 mph on his fastball.

Only MG would try to get away with saying Papelbon's splitter is "not bad."

Papelbon's splitter is pretty damn good...regardless of what MG thinks.

I'm not sure why MG cares about the closer, given that he complains in almost every game that Cholly doesn't leave things in the hands of the scrub middle relievers.

Why would Papelbon suddenly lose 2-3 MPH off his fastball for no reason?

Did he suddenly lose the ability to throw his excellent splitter and I missed it?

Why are we looking so hard for reasons why Papelbon will fail and not just hoping that we have one of the best closers in all of the sport anchoring our bullpen?

He will probably request his salary in $1 bills and then tear his rotator cuff carrying around huge sacks of cash...or something like that.

Because...you know, that makes sense.

You know, even though he's throwing harder now than he did his first couple seasons and he's added velocity for 3 years running. Clearly he is in the decline phase of his career.

Also, he was highly effective when he threw 93 mph like he did when he broke into the Majors.

http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfxo.aspx?playerid=5975&position=P&pitch=FA

Clearly he's in decline velocity wise.

AFish: MG is just someone who loves complaining about everything related to the bullpen. It's his gimmick.

Chris, NEPP, TTI, Papelbon will lose elocity simply because MG SAYS he must. Get it?

BAP's point is my basic contention. No one is claiming he is Michael Bourn or Chase Utley or even Albert Pujols on the base paths.

But running the bases is part of baseball, and you can be good at it or bad at it, and being good or bad at it affects your teams success. Howard gets paid to play baseball. The more things he does to help a team win baseball games, the better player he is. His home runs and doubles help a lot. Pretty much everything else he does on a baseball field doesn't.

I'm confused. I don't see anywhere that MG said Papelbon was going to lose velocity on his fastball anytime soon. Can someone point me to where he said that? It looked to me like he merely made a conjecture about what kind of pitcher he is--the kind who, like most pitchers, wouldn't be as effective IF he lost velocity.

Unless I read something wrong, I never saw MG predict that he was going to lose velocity. Can someone show me where he said that?

i guess in fall fairness to Konerko and his bad baserunning stats,the only person stupid enough to make konerko even ATTEMPT to steal a base is ozzie guillen. So his #'s should improve to 0/0 this year.

MG - The odd part is that San Jose was A's territory until the '90s when they ceded it to the Giants, gratis, in a move to buttress efforts to keep the team from moving to Miami or elsewhere in the darkest days of Candlestick. The Giants, now, refuse to give it back presumably because they want the Bay Area to themselves. The Giants' price will be steep and, the consequence of trying to override their veto is a repeat of the internecine warfare that threatened MLB's antitrust exemption back when contraction was on the table for the Expos and others.


Posted by: Hugh Mulcahy | Monday, February 13, 2012 at 04:11 PM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AMEN!

I wish the national sports media was this knowledgeable about the A's ballpark situation.

BTW, I'm not sure I can conceive of a hell hot enough for the Giants ownership to spend their eternity burning in.

MG is right. Everyone knows that fastball pitchers in their early 30s starting losing 1-2 mph per year. Hell, look at Billy Wagner and Curt Schilling....oh, wait.

Hugh (and out of my league): To the extent much remains of the antitrust exemption, and it isn't clear a whole lot does, getting rid of it wouldn't necessarily be the worst thing in the world.

My post disappeared. No Papelbon has not shown any sign his velocity is diminishing and if it stays at ~95 here for his duration as the closer he will be very good.

There are anomalies like Wagner who throw incredibly hard well into their late 30s but they are exceptions and not the norm.

Just thought it is incredibly risky to invest in a closer especially one who depends on throwing his 4-seamer so much. That's all. If its cold and he doesn't have a great feel for his splitter, its 4-seamer after 4-seamer.

I stand by my earlier statement too. Papelbon's splitter is a good pitch. It is not an elite offspeed pitch in the category of Madson's changeup or Lidge's slider. You could add Wagner's slider to that mix too which just ate LH bats up.

Why I think Papelbon would struggle more than say Madson did if he loses ~2 MPH on his fastball or even when Lidge was at 93-94 MPH in '08. Both of those guys have an offspeed pitch that has more velocity difference with their 4-seamer and it is a better pitch.

If there's one thing that is exempt it's probably issues involving franchise expansion, location, and relocation.

As for the Howard thing, it just seems like a waste of time. Was anyone complaining about his base running in 06-07? No. The Angels aren't paying Pujols to steal a base either. Howard's problem is that he's injured and can't hit HR. The Yankees aren't paying Brett Gardner to hit HR and no one is starting threads about how his inability to hit more than 10 HR decreases his value (even though that's just as true). We're basically criticizing these guys for not being Willie Mays. Howard has other, bigger problems.

The Papelon debate is similar. The problem with Papelbon isn't his FB or his conditioning. It's his 4/5-year deal. No one has a good sense of his attrition risk or injury risk -- he's been nothing but solid to this point -- but the Phils took it all on. This is not an argument against signing FB relievers to long-term deals. It's an argument against any such deals to anyone but Mo Rivera. You could say a change up is less likely to evaporate, but signing Madson long-term would be a risk as well (for other reasons).

I'm fine with it because of his track record. I think Papelbon is one of the few guys who's worth something like this, and the Phils are one of the few teams in a position where it makes sense to pay out.

MG, Howard had a .570+ SLG in 2009. He did that despite hitting .207/.298/.356 against lefties (252 PA, ~36%).

By contrast Howard hit .264/.333/.492 against lefties in 2010 (in 216 PA, ~35%) a year in which he had a .505 SLG. He also faced more fastballs in 2010 than 2009, fewer curves, and fewer change ups.

Granted there's more to the story, but I'm not convinced Howard won't OPS over .900 because of is his inability to hit lefties.

Other place you might look for how specialization his changed his numbers in recent years is his performance in late innings. Not strong date there either really. 2011 was pretty much middle-of-the-pack, career average as far as his OPS in 7-9 innings goes:

06: .958
07: .856
08: .580
09: .869
10: .750
11: .826
career: .816

In the last two years the more dramatic SLG drop is actually in his performance against RHP.

SLG

06: .711
07: .644
08: .601
09: .693
10: .513
11: .550

Sophist - Agreed about the base running. That was slugging was 3 years ago though. I will give Howard a pass this year if he doesn't have a SLG pct much greater than .500 due to recovering from his injury this year.

The problem is that if Howard does struggle a bit this year he is going to get buried by the fans even if he still isn't even a year removed from blowing out his Achilles.

No way Howard gets away with a lack of production like Utley did last year in the 2nd half of the year (.245/.327/.415) and was in August/Sept (.227/.305/.343) without tacking an endless amount of criticism and even booing from the fans.

MG, agreed on not expecting much from Howard in 2012.

And I definitely see your point on Papelbon. For every Billy Wagner there's a hard thrower who lost a bit on his FB. Look at a guy like Troy Percival. But even Percival was ~34 before he lost significant FB velocity, remained a nice reliever, and he never had Papelbon's control. I really don't have a strong sense his FB velocity attenuation, but it's a risky deal that's for sure. But one that won't cripple them despite the giggles from the gallery.

Sophist: If the Yankees signed Brett Gardner to a 5-year, $125M contract, I would fully expect Yankees bloggers to be complaining about his many shortcomings as a ball player -- and they would be more than justified in doing so.

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